How To Load A Shotgun

Shotguns come in a variety of forms. However, the most popular forms of shotgun are the semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns.

These firearms need to be handled differently to other forms of firearms. This is why gun owners often take courses on how to handle a shotgun appropriately.

How To Load A Shotgun

Usually, these guns don’t contain the same magazine as rifles or handguns. The vast majority of time, shotguns will contain a tube to load the bullets into.

If you are unsure how to safely handle a shotgun, it is recommended that you engage in firearm safety training in your local area prior to purchasing these weapons in order to avoid any hazardous situations from occurring.

There is no shame in asking for help to ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones, and these courses will teach you how to safely handle your weapon and thoroughly carry out verification checks to ascertain whether your weapon is loaded or unloaded at any given time. 

In order to properly load a semi-automatic shotgun, you should follow these steps: 

  1. Ensure that your firearm is not loaded already. You will need to do this whenever you are handling a weapon, as it is the most important rule of gun safety. You should also always make the assumption that the weapon is already loaded so that you thoroughly check it for verification that it is empty.
  2. Ensure that the bolt on the gun is facing in a forwards direction.
  3. Slide your bullet from the bottom of the weapon into the magazine tube. You will need to ensure that it is facing in the correct direction and that the prime is towards the rear of the shell. You can then slide the shell into the tube by firmly pushing on its rear. 
  4. Continue the above step until you have the desired amount of shells in your shotgun.
  5. Pull the gun’s bolt backwards. This will ensure that the shells from the tube move into the correct chamber and are ready for firing.
  6. In the eventuality that you want to unload your shotgun, you should simply pull back the bolt and eject any shells. It is important to note that there may still be shells in the tube and thus, the weapon will unload these into the gun’s chamber. Therefore, you should continue this process until you have ejected all the shells. 

How To Load A Pump-Action Shotgun

The process of loading a pump-action shotgun is slightly different to loading a semi-automatic weapon.

This is because the mechanism within each weapon is slightly different and therefore requires a different process of loading and unloading. The following steps outline how to load a pump-action shotgun correctly:

How To Load A Pump-Action Shotgun
  1. Ensure that your pump-action shotgun isn’t loaded already. You should carry out this step whenever you are handling a weapon. As previously mentioned, you should assume that the weapon is loaded each and every time to ensure that you are carrying out safe and accurate verification checks. 
  2. Once you have established that it is unloaded, ensure that the forend of the weapon is in a forward position. This is the grip that your other hand will cling to whilst you are firing using your ‘trigger-hand’. You will also use this in order to cycle rounds into the chamber. In some weapons, there may be a level that you need to hold down in order to use this pump correctly.
  3. Take the shells and slide them from the bottom of the weapon into the tube. You should do this similarly to how you would load a semi-automatic shotgun, ensuring that the shell is always facing in the correct direction by assessing whether the primer is at the rear. You can slide the shells by firmly pushing them, using your thumb, into the magazine tube. Continue this process until you have loaded as many shells as you require or until the chamber becomes full.
  4. Move a shell into the gun’s chamber. You can do this by pulling the weapon’s     forestock towards the rear and then pushing it forwards again. This mechanism is similar to how a pump-action gun will cycle shells. In order to unload a pump-action gun, you should continue this process until all the shells are unloaded.


To conclude, shotguns can be used for a variety of reasons, ranging from competitions to self-defense in your home.

If you are a new firearm owner, then you should engage in firearms handling training in your local area as these will be able to accurately teach you how to safely handle a firearm.

You should also ensure that you are loading your shotgun when alone to avoid any hazardous situations from occurring.

If you are unsure how you should load your weapon, then engaging in these courses or consulting with a firearms expert is the best way to make sure that you are handling your weapon correctly.

These courses will also teach you how to rectify any jams within your shotgun safely and swiftly. 

These weapons are undoubtedly useful for defensive purposes within the home. However, you should also ensure that you are storing these weapons carefully, keeping them out of the reach of your children.

It is also important that you purchase the correct ammunition for your shotgun to avoid any jams from occurring.

Engaging in thorough research prior to purchasing a shotgun is the most effective means of ensuring that no hazards or issues occur. 

Matthew Osborn

Matt is an entrepreneur who has created and successfully exited multiple companies and brands. Now, he dedicates his time to Legionary, where he produces content on guns, family, and freedom.

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